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Health Highlights: Sept. 29, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Blood Center Abandoned Research Chimps: Critics

A U.S. blood center is being criticized for abandoning chimps used in research.

The nonprofit New York Blood Center ran a lab in Liberia that used the chimps in experiments to find ways to improve human health. The center ended its research in Liberia in 2005 and retired the chimps to uninhabited mangrove islands in a river, the Washington Post reported.

Until 2015, the center supplied the chimps with food and clean water, which aren't available on the islands. But the center then halted its funding and said the 63 remaining chimps were now the responsibility of the Liberian government.

But the chimps are being cared for by a Humane Society of the United States-led coalition that spends $30,000 a month to pay a staff of 30 and buy 500 pounds of food a day for the chimps. The coalition also funds birth control for female chimps in order to keep the population in check, the Post reported.

Despite critics who say the blood center abandoned the chimps, the charity says it cannot divert "millions of dollars away from our lifesaving mission" so that it cares for the chimpanzees.

The Humane Society said this week it will partner with former New Mexico governor and longtime animal advocate Bill Richardson on the issue. Richardson's foundation will donate $35,000 to help build a chimp sanctuary on the islands and he will join the effort to "hold the New York Blood Center accountable for abandoning these chimps," the Post reported.

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LED Streetlights Being Changed After AMA Warning

A number of American cities and towns are changing their LED streetlights after a warning from the American Medical Association.

The AMA said high-color temperature LED streetlight pose several health risks. Over time, glare from the lights may cause distorted vision and eye damage, CNN reported.

Also, high levels of blue light in LEDs could disrupt circadian rhythms and lead to sleep problems that could result in conditions such as depression and obesity.

In response to the AMA's warning, cities such as Phoenix; Lake Worth, Florida, and 25 towns in Connecticut are switching to streetlights with lower color temperatures and less blue light emission, CNN reported.

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New Rule Protects Nursing Home Residents' Legal Rights

A new Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' rule forbids nursing homes and assisted living facilities that receive federal funding from forcing residents to resolve disputes in arbitration instead of court.

The rule issued Wednesday would affect 1.5 million nursing home residents and addresses health and safety claims such as elder abuse, sexual harassment and wrongful death, according to New York Times.

Nursing home contracts have pushed such claims into the private system of arbitration and out of public view. While that has lowered nursing homes' legal costs, it has thwarted justice for many nursing home residents and their families.

"The sad reality is that today too many Americans must choose between forfeiting their legal rights and getting adequate medical care," Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, said in a statement, The Times reported.

The new rule was introduced after officials in 16 states and the District of Columbia urged the federal government to take action to protect nursing home residents.

But the nursing home industry opposes the change.

The new rule "clearly exceeds" the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' legal authority and was "wholly unnecessary to protect residents' health and safety," Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive of a trade group called the American Health Care Association, said in a statement, The Times reported.

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Artificial Bone Created by Scientists

Artificial bone that can be custom-shaped using a 3-D printer has been developed by scientists.

The Northwestern University researchers said their "hyper-elastic bone" acts like natural bone and can be used to repair deformed bones and certain types of bone injuries, NBC News reported.

When tested in a monkey, the material fused to the animal's skull and new blood vessel grew into it, the team reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The researchers hope to test the material in people within the next five years, NBC News reported.

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Supplement Maker Pledges Genetic Tests of Products

The United States' largest maker of herbal supplements has agreed to conduct advanced genetic testing to confirm its products actually contain the ingredients listed on the label.

The pledge by NBTY was announced Wednesday by the New York State attorney general's office after an investigation discovered that 80 percent of supplements from major retailers did not contain any of the herbs promised on the label, The New York Times reported.

Instead, the products often contained pills with cheap fillers such as asparagus, houseplants and powdered rice. In some cases, the products contained ingredients such as nuts and soy, which could pose a risk to people with food allergies.

The agreement with NBTY affects a number of popular brands, including Solgar, Nature's Bounty and Sundown Naturals, according to The Times.

It's the third such agreement the New York State attorney general's office has reached with a supplement maker.


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